TREASURE ISLAND — City commissioners unanimously accepted the Isle of Capri Civic Association’s contribution of $21,995 to develop John Morroni Memorial Dog Park in Rosselli Park, but it was not without another effort by the group opposing the amenity to prevent it from being built.
During an Oct. 1 City Commission meeting, Justin Tramble, assistant director of recreation, noted it was at a March 19 meeting that commissioners approved the dog park being built at Rosselli Park, behind the ballfield’s left-field fence, pending funds raised by the ICCA.
The commission amended city codes to establish a city dog park and permit dogs to run at-large and unleashed within the fenced area of the park, Tramble explained.
Glenn McKiel, spokesman for the Save Roselli Park group, told commissioners, “Honestly, I feel this will fall on deaf ears, but I’m going to try it anyway. We are individuals that abut the park; we’re trying to preserve the green space and protect the neighborhood. To say we are disillusioned, dismayed and disappointed would be a profound understatement. We continue to maintain this dog park is ill-conceived; there was absolutely no planning or consideration of the neighborhood within its location,” he said.
McKiel told commissioners the dog park was initially conceived as a dog run proposed by ICCA of about 4,000 square feet.
“For reasons that no one has yet to explain, throughout the entire process, we are now at what has been deemed in the media as a signature dog park totaling 15,000 square feet. We want to know, how did we get here?” McKiel said.
“Residents’ peaceful existence is going to be destroyed,” he said.
Mike Braddy, president of the ICCA, took exception. He told commissioners the park “was never going to be a dog run, at any time; it was meant to be a dog park.”
McKiel added a main point of contention is that fundraising for the park by ICCA started in September 2018, but “the association failed to register as a charity until May 2019. … We contend any donation made from September 2018 to May 2019 was done outside the law and should be returned.”
Accepting the donation will make Treasure Island a party to any action his group takes moving forward, McKiel told commissioners.
Braddy said the ICCA has been registered with the state as a nonprofit since 1960. “Every year we have to fill that out, so I don’t know what he is talking about.”
He said the ICCA wants to point out that funds donated to build the dog park went to buy pavers, benches and other things for the park.
“None of this money came directly to the ICCA, all of it came directly to the city,” he said. “Some don’t understand that, but most people have supported this,” Braddy said.
Commissioner Tyler Payne asked City Attorney Jennifer Cowan if the city has any liability in accepting the donation.
Cowan advised that there was a question directed toward the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services that deals with the enforcement of the Solicitation of Contributions Act, and whether there was proper registration.
The agency confirmed the organization is registered, she said, and the department has not taken any action.
“I don’t have concern; I don’t even have any kind of notification from the department that they are proceeding in any particular fashion,” she added.
Commissioners Deborah Toth, Tyler Payne and Mayor Larry Lunn unanimously voted to accept the donation of funds to build the dog park. Commissioners Saleene Partridge and Heidi Horak were absent.
The city will record these funds as revenue in fiscal year 2020 to offset the cost of construction of the dog park, Tramble said. After fencing designed to separate large and small dogs and other amenities are installed, the city plans to open the dog park sometime in December.